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Radiocommunications Agency

Mr. Casale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes are planned to the service which the Radiocommunications Agency provides to investigate interference to domestic television and radio reception. [155544]

Ms Hewitt: Further to my reply of 9 November 2000, Official Report, columns 327-28W, I have now reviewed the way that the Agency handles the investigation of domestic television and radio reception problems. With effect from 1 April the Agency will accept complaints about TV and radio reception (subject to certain basic conditions, such as the installation of a satisfactory aerial) and a charge will only be payable if, following an investigation by the Agency, the problem is found to be within the complainant's own installation. That charge will be £50 including VAT. This procedure will allow domestic consumers to report possible interference arising from new broadband telecommunications systems.

22 Mar 2001 : Column: 311W

Postal Services Commission

Mr. Casale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will issue social and environmental guidance to the Postal Services Commission; and if he will make a statement. [155543]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I have today, in accordance with section 43(2) of the Postal Services Act 2000, issued guidance to the Postal Services Commission about the making by the Commission of a contribution towards the attainment of the social and environmental policies referred to in the guidance. A draft of the guidance had been laid, in the terms in which it is now being issued, before each House of Parliament on 8 February 2001, in accordance with section 43(4) of the Act. Copies of the guidance have been laid in the Libraries of each House and the guidance is also being made available on the DTI's website

The process of giving statutory social and environmental guidance has been developed to provide a means of ensuring that regulators take due account of the Government's social and environmental policies in carrying out their statutory functions. Regulators have a statutory duty to have regard to the guidance.

Debt Taskforce

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the personnel involved in the debt taskforce, its work programme and the preliminary conclusions it has reached. [154813]

Dr. Howells: The debt taskforce I set up to explore the cause and effect of overindebtedness and develop practical solutions for achieving more responsible lending and borrowing is made up of representatives from:

I have asked the taskforce to look at three key issues:

The taskforce will present its report and recommendations to me in April.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Home Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many households in (a) England, (b) Scotland and (c) Wales, are not receiving direct postal deliveries because of precautionary and mandatory access restrictions connected with the foot and

22 Mar 2001 : Column: 312W

mouth disease outbreak; and what arrangements can be made for the delivery and collection of postal votes in such circumstances. [154829]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I have been advised by the Post Office that all households in the affected areas have access to its postal services. Arrangements have been made at a local level for the collection and distribution of mail in areas affected by foot and mouth disease or where farmers or landowners have requested that postal staff do not go on their land. These arrangements include:

A central record of these local arrangements is not available.

Arrangements for the delivery and collection of postal votes would be the same as for ordinary mail.

Textile and Clothing Strategy

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the British fashion industry on its role in the national textile and clothing strategy. [153649]

Ms Hewitt: The Textile and Clothing National Strategy Group, on which the British Fashion Council is represented, made a number of recommendations that relate directly to the role of designers. These are under consideration by the Department and others interested in promoting the sector. As the Minister directly responsible for the sector, I have met representatives of the British Fashion Council on two occasions since November last year to discuss possible further support to designers within the wider context of the strategy.

Conoco Power Station (South Killingholme)

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will announce his decision on Conoco Global Power Developments UK Ltd.'s proposal to build a combined heat and gas power station at the Conoco Humber refinery at South Killingholme. [155541]

Mr. Hain: I have today granted consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 to Conoco Global Power Developments UK Ltd. for the construction of a 700 megawatt gas-fired combined heat and power station at the Conoco Humber Refinery at South Killingholme in North Lincolnshire. The station has also today been given clearance as a gas-fired station under section 14 of the Energy Act 1976 and planning permission for the station has been deemed to be granted subject to 47 planning conditions agreed with the North Lincolnshire borough council. This consent is an extension to the proposal which was granted consent on 13 November 2000.

The station will supply the energy requirements of the Conoco Humber Refinery and the Lindsay Oil Refinery and is the largest combined heat and power station given approval by the Government. This demonstrates our continued support to promote CHP stations, wherever practicable, and our commitment to reducing emissions of carbon to fulfil the promises we gave at Kyoto.

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Copies of the Press Notice and decision letters are being placed in the Library of the House.

Trade Tariffs

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with (a) the European Commissioner for Development and (b) his European counterparts on (i) the recent amendments to proposals for the everything But arms initiative and (ii) the implications of these proposals for United Kingdom sugar producers; and if he will make a statement. [153556]

Mr. Caborn: The Government welcome the European Union's recent agreement to the everything But arms proposal which has now led to the EU's removal of tariffs from all remaining imports from the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the world, subject to transitional arrangements for bananas, rice and sugar only. This resulted from ongoing discussions held by the Government with other EU member states and the European Commission, an important part of which was consideration of the implications of these proposals both for ACP sugar exporters and UK sugar producers.

It is the Government's view that LDCs, because of their low level of economic development and poor infrastructure, are not in a position to export large amounts of sugar in the short term. This, coupled with the arrangements for tariff quotas for sugar through until 1 July 2009, means that the short term implications for UK sugar producers are negligible.

Companies House

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what targets he has set the Department's executive agency, Companies House, for 2001-02. [155545]

Dr. Howells: I have set Companies House the following targets for the 2001-02 year.

22 Mar 2001 : Column: 314W

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